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Annual income, hourly wages, and identity Among Mexican Americans and other Latinos

  • Mason, Patrick L.

This article examines heterogeneity and income inequality among Hispanic Americans. Two processes that influence Hispanic heterogeneity include acculturation and labor market discrimination because of skin shade/phenotype. I focus on Hispanics because of their variation in phenotype, color, nativity, and language usage and also because of their recent large-scale integration into a society that historically has been characterized by bipolar racial categories that are putatively based on phenotype. This process provides a natural experiment for appraising the relative importance of acculturation, discrimination, and income inequality. I use data from two periods, 1979 and 1989, to determine the stability of identity formation among Mexican-Americans and other Hispanics. I find strong incentives favoring acculturation among Mexican- and Cuban-Americans. Americans of Mexican and Cuban descent but less so Puerto Ricans are able to increase annual income and hourly wages by acculturating into a non-Hispanic white racial identity. However, neither the abandonment of Spanish nor the abandonment of a specifically Hispanic racial self-identity is sufficient to overcome the penalties associated with having a dark complexion and non-European phenotype.

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File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/11326/1/MPRA_paper_11326.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 11326.

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Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Industrial Relations 4.43(2004): pp. 817-834
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:11326
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Web page: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de

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  1. Darity, William Jr. & Mason, Patrick L. & Stewart, James B., 2006. "The economics of identity: The origin and persistence of racial identity norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 283-305, July.
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